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Europe travel tips: 10 things that will annoy travellers to Europe

Traveller logoTraveller 7/03/2017 Ben Groundwater

A sad tourist in Vatican city who needs to stay at large people queue for visiting Basilica. © Getty Images A sad tourist in Vatican city who needs to stay at large people queue for visiting Basilica. A trip to Europe is one of the world's great travel experiences – but it's not perfect. Far from it.

There's plenty about Europe that will annoy you, in amongst all of the sophistication and beauty and deliciousness. It's not necessarily anything the people do; these are just parts of everyday European life that will bug you if it's your first time on the continent.

Most travellers will love Europe – of that there is no doubt. But they will also find it a little annoying.

The crowds

Europe is historic, it's beautiful, it's sexy, it's intoxicating, and it's fun. For proof of that fact, check out how many other tourists have turned up to enjoy it. It can occasionally feel – particularly in uber-popular cities such as Venice, Amsterdam, or Paris – that all of the locals have fled in the face of this bum-bag-laden onslaught of foreign gawkers. Unless you make an effort to get off the beaten track, or travel in low season, you'll be sharing your European travel experience with a lot of other people.

The smoking

It's funny how what was once accepted practice in Australia – smoking in bars – now seems like a horrific affront to all decent sensibilities. And so if comes as a major shock to find that in countries such as Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, and even Germany, smokers are still free to puff away inside drinking establishments. It means you end up reeking of ciggies every evening, and awake with a far worse hangover than you really deserve. Fun.

The expense

Europe doesn't have to be expensive. If you spend time in southern Spain, or Portugal, or out in eastern states such as Bulgaria, Poland or Hungary, you'll find this continent eminently affordable. However, it's not all like that. Spend a few days in any of the Scandinavian countries, or Amsterdam, or Paris, or London, and you'll find your finances crashing like your own personal GFC. You'll need to budget big for these places.

The horrible coffee

There's only one country in Europe with reliably good coffee, and that's Italy. Why, oh why, you wonder, don't all of the other countries just copy Italy? Why not just steal a few of their baristas and enjoy a decent brew? Everywhere else – France, Germany, the UK, Switzerland, anywhere in the east – the coffee is bitter, flat, and expensive. And don't even think about visiting one of the British chains.

You'll be sharing your European travel experience with many others. © iStock You'll be sharing your European travel experience with many others. The realisation that you're monolingual

There will come a point when a European will ask you a very disheartening question: "What's your second language?" As an Australian, in all probability you'll have to answer that you don't have one. And in Europe that's a major disadvantage. This is a continent of many languages and many cultures, and while your ability to speak English will allow you to get by, you're only skimming the surface as a monolinguist.

The siestas

On the one hand, the siesta is the greatest idea of all time. Sleeping during the middle of the day? Yes please. On the other hand, however, siesta, when you're not used to it, is a nightmare. In many parts of southern Europe, between the hours of midday and 5pm, various shops will be closed for various hours, thwarting your attempt to go to the pharmacy, or grab an afternoon snack, or do pretty much anything of value other than sleep.

The doonas

Germans don't do double doonas. Neither do the Swiss, or the Austrians. Even if you're sleeping in a king-sized bed, you'll find two single doonas neatly folded on top. Fine if you're top-and-tailing with your platonic travel buddy, but kind of odd for those of us who actually enjoy physical contact with their partners at night.

The rigid opening hours

Sunday trading is something we've come to accept as normal in Australia. In countries such as Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, however, your efforts to purchase things on a Sunday will end in failure, purely because all of the shops are shut. You'll also find that plenty of restaurants throughout the continent close at about 2pm every day, and some shops, like a clothing store I found in Amsterdam, have signs that say things like, "Open most Tuesdays, and sometimes on Saturdays".

The bad Asian food

It will probably come as no surprise to find that Italian food in Italy is extremely good, French food in France is amazing, Greek food in Greece is delicious, and so on and so on. What is disappointing, however, is that as soon as you stray away from the local cuisine in pretty much any European country – say, you've got a hankering for yum cha in France, or you really want a bowl of pho in the Czech Republic – the choices range from bad to horrible. On a long journey, when the Asian food cravings kick in, this can be pretty annoying.

The sheer mass of things to do and see

On any given day in any city in Europe, you will have the choice of thousands of amazing things to do and see and taste and smell and enjoy. The most troublesome part of your day will probably be choosing between them.

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